Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is now saying that the vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as the next Attorney General could depend on Congress working out an ongoing squabble over a controversial human trafficking bill.
Senate Republicans threatened Sunday to further delay the confirmation vote for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saying that the vote could depend on whether Congress works out a human trafficking bill first.
“This will have an impact on the timing of considering a new attorney general,” McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I had hoped to turn to her next week, but if we can’t finish the trafficking bill, she will be put off again.”
“It’s not a threat,” he added. “We need to finish this human trafficking bill that came out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously.”
McConnell had said last week that Lynch, the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney, would receive a Senate confirmation vote this week, after previous delays of the vote.
Lynch, who is black, has waited longer for a confirmation vote than any nominee in three decades. Democrats have suggested that Lynch’s race is a factor in the delays.
The latest possible postponement comes as a prominent human trafficking bill – the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, written by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) – was stalled last week by Democrats, who accused Republicans of quietly inserting anti-abortion language into the bill.
On Sunday, Democrats again blasted McConnell for holding up Lynch’s nomination.
“For months and months, Republicans have failed to move forward with? her nomination using any excuse they can, except for any credible objection to her nomination itself,” New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer said in a statement. “Loretta Lynch, and the American people, don’t deserve this. At a time when terrorists from ISIS to Al-Shabaab threaten the United States, the nominee to be attorney general deserves an up or down vote.”
Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) office slammed McConnell, too.
“Senator McConnell should keep his word and bring Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch up for a vote this week,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said in a statement. “By continuing to stall Lynch’s nomination Republicans are failing yet another basic test of their ability to govern.”
“There is nothing stopping the Senate from confirming Lynch and continuing to debate the trafficking bill this week, except Senator McConnell’s unwillingness to bring her nomination up for a vote,” he added.
Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, has waited longer for a confirmation vote than any attorney general nominee in three decades. Democrats have suggested that Lynch’s race is a factor in the delays.
Democrats remain cautiously confident Lynch will win confirmation, albeit narrowly.
Lynch’s confirmation had initially been thought to be virtually guaranteed. But Republicans have consistently come out against here, citing her approval of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Four Republicans, Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine, have said they’ll vote to confirm her, joining all 46 Senate Democrats.
As long as no prospective supporter changed their mind, Lynch would have at least 50 votes, assuring her a narrow confirmation, since Vice President Biden can break a Senate tie.